Everyone has that place when they travel. The town or country that everyone adores and can’t speak highly enough of and you get really excited about going, then you get there and don’t enjoy yourself. I’m sad to say that, for me, Malawi was that place. I spent my time listening to how amazing Malawi was at that the people were the friendliest ‘in all of Africa’ so my heart sunk a little when I felt intimidated by local village people and found the country quite, I don’t know; missing something?!
I’m not degrading the country; as I said, I know of many people that absolutely adore the country for its scenery and the people but sadly, I just couldn’t see/feel it as much as I wanted to. However, I won’t ever forget that this was the country that helped me discover myself. Riding along the dusty roads lined with village huts and churches, everything ‘clicked’ in my head and I finally found myself.
We had 5 days in the country spending our time around the lake which takes up a THIRD of the entire country (can you believe that?!) and whilst I did enjoy my surroundings, I didn’t like much else. But I would love to go back someday and hopefully change my perception!
Above is where I spent my first night camping on the shores of Lake Malawi. Just me, my tent and blustering wind like you wouldn’t believe. To the point where I woke up at 2am convinced that all my laundry had come off the line so there I was, 2am, half-naked collecting my washing. Classy right?!
On a village walk, we were invited to go and view a clinic and whilst it was good to look around and we were allowed to take photos (as the people want to spread the word to the world about the conditions etc), this is the only photo I took because it just didn’t feel right. The conditions weren’t great but the standard of care was really good (as the doctors truly cared about their community) and you suddenly realise that waiting in A&E for a cut on your finger is nothing compared to the problem they face in the medical profession.
Visiting a school was a bit of an eye-opener. 1500 students and only 10 teachers using books decades old in all different languages because they were sources from wherever they could get them. It gave a new meaning to ‘difficult learning’. It also doesn’t help that their reference books were from all over the world and in several different languages. Acacia Africa (the tour operator) have started a scheme to help turn this around called the Eco Book Depository where you can bring books from home and give them to your tour leaders to hand out to appropriate schools all over the continent 🙂
We spent the last 3 days in Malawi simply taking in our surroundings. Going for swims, reading books and writing journals; using our time to relax and before we knew it it was time to leave.
Malawi may not have been my ‘it’ country but the scenery was gorgeous and it certainly left a lasting impression…